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Yoo hoo! Lump of Yew - seasoning advice

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Wouldchuk

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Hello folks,

The wood collection is continuing, with very little actual woodworking ever taking place... where does the time go??

I just acquired this lump of Yew - its around 18inches long and 12inches in diameter. It is still very green as I think it was only cut around a month ago and it is still holding lots of greenery which you can see in the picture.

So - advice please - I'd like to make some bowls with this but what do you think i should do as far as seasoning is concerned?

I can simply wax up the ends as is and stick it in the shed for evermore, or if it will speed things up, i can cut it down the centre into two halves?

THoughts please



 

Blister

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Have you thought about the capacity of your lathe ?

How big a item will you be able to turn on it ?
 

Paul Hannaby

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If you cut it (longways), you will improve the chances of it drying without splitting. Depending what size bowls you are intending to make, you might find you get more out of it if you cut it into three 120° sections. Or, cut it into three 4" slabs and cut the centre one in half through the pith to give you two 6"x4" pieces.

Seal the ends with either wax, pva or any old paint you have left over.
 

Wouldchuk

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Options.. options...!

I've a Record Power CL4 so quite a large capacity.

I had read that Yew can be prone to splitting so wanted to take measures to avoid that. I think for this I shall cut in lenthways then, seal up the ends, and put in storage for a while. I would usually leave the bark on - i've turned Yew befroe and the bark stays well attached so I'd like to try a natural edge bowl if possible

I am hoping that I can get hold a bit more so I can try slabbing with the next bit.

Indcidentally, I'm not sure how well you can tell, but the heartwood is a pinky colour, not that deep gold which Yew often goes - is this due to the relative young age (around 40 years), the green-ness of the wood (felled a month ago), or even a variety difference?

Thanks for the advice - the sun is shining and the allotment calling - woodturning will have to wait!
 

Neil Farrer

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My opinion is leave the bark exactly where it is! Looks to me like you have got yourself a good bit of yew there looking at the outside.

Yew will dry notoriously slowly. You must cut it according to what you are going to do with it. I have some six foot straight lengths of yew, 14 inches in diameter that I rescued from a farmer who was in the logging business as a side line and had found these lengths in the bottom of a consignment of tree clearance that he had received. The Farmer had not known what to do with them so had left them in a heap in the back of a shed for about eight years min. I got them last summer and two months ago decide to get on with it and split them. I wanted to make a variety of things with them so instead of planking the entire lengths took a ring off the top about ten inches deep.

The original diameter was 14 inches and you could actually see the wet wood at the centre. It was about eight inches in diameter, confirmed with a moisture meter.

When Yew was felled in medieval times to make bows they used to cut the timber and throw it in the river for a few months to try and wash the sap out of it in the hope that it speeded up the drying process (the clever ones tied it to the river bank!!!!).

The pink that you can see is not indicative of age or indeed the colour of the wood within. It is a result of the ferrous element in the chainsaw reacting with the sap. One word of warning about yew - it is extraordinarily efficient at absorbing silica from the earth which can materialise as white layers within the grain. If this is the case it can be worthless and the the wood will fall apart when you turn it.
 
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